Beyond the Paddock: The Controversial Reign of Red Bull Racing

A dive into the dominant force of Red Bull’s F1 team
Photo by Kenny Leys on Unsplash

In 2023, the Red Bull Racing team won 22/23 races, with the only race dropped to Ferrari driver Carlos Sainz. The team dominated more than any other team ever had in modern day Formula 1, with an average winning margin of 13.6 seconds to second place

The 2021 Formula 1 season gave us the most cinematic battle between the seven time world champion Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton, and young hotshot Red Bull driver Max Verstappen. The two were back and forth on points all season, winning 19/23 races, with the only other race winners being Verstappen’s teammate Sergio Perez, Hamilton’s teammate Valteri Bottas, Daniel Ricardo of Mclaren and Estaban Ocon pulling off a miracle in an Alpine car. The season came down to the final race in Abu Dhabi, with the two tied in points, Verstappen won after overtaking Hamilton on a controversial last lap.

Sounds interesting right? Well in 2023 the Red Bull Racing Team won 22/23 races with the only loss being to Carlos Sainz of Ferrari. No team in modern Formula 1 dominated like how Verstappen did in 2023. The car’s average margin to second place was 13.6 seconds, with the average being 6 seconds in 2021 over Hamilton alone.

It is reported that Red Bull spent over the salary cap that all teams on the grid had to follow, as well as hiring at least 20 engineers from Mercedes after all their years of winning. This disrespects the integrity and sportsmanship of the sport. Instead of trying to build their team and car up, they are marked with being cheaters and poachers.

When the same guy wins every weekend, watching the race gets boring. For a sport that is all over the world, it becomes more and more unlikely that people will wake up at the crack of dawn to watch a Grand Prix. There are only six races in The Americas, and it just isn’t worth it to either stay up late or wake up early for the other 17 tracks. In recent years, F1 has gained popularity in the region due to the Netflix documentary Drive to Survive, but declined significantly in 2023, with ABC losing 25% of its viewers on average.

Another reason some say they are ruining the sport is the personalities within the Red Bull team, starting with the team principal Christian Horner. Horner has faced allegations with inappropriate relations with a female employee within the team, but he was ultimately cleared. He also takes on a very antagonistic and condescending role as principal. He is very unapologetic and will do anything to win. Pérez, the team’s second seat holder, is a very aggressive driver with questionable technique and style that has gotten him a reputation among other drivers. Verstappen has gotten a reputation for being cocky as well, which has been met with mixed reaction as some think he deserves to be cocky.

The Red Bull team and Verstappen have significantly decreased the watchability of Formula 1, and decreased viewership along the globe. If Formula one wants its viewers back, they need to fix Verstappen and Red Bull’s winning formula.

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